Skip to main content

Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

See other formats

64                     MODF.RX   GERMAN   LITERATURE

master before he became an author, he satirized educational pedan-
tries in his comedy FJacbswatm ah Hr^ieber (1902), \&]ugendm
heufe (1900) the megalomania of would-be Nietzschean supermen
in the literary world, and in Gerechtigkeit (1902) blustering jour-
nalists. As a dramatist he fails because he cannot get beyond the
rough outlines of conventional types; thus his schoolmasters in
Flachsmann ah Hr^jeher have their qualities of lustful and tyrannical
(the awful headmaster!), sporting, jocular, or born teacher (the
awful hero!) stressed almost in the manner of pantomime. Otto
Ernst gave an impetus to the revival of the l$ildtingsroman with his
to a great extent autobiographical Asmus Sempers]ugendland(i<)Q}\
Semper der ]tingling (1908), and Semper der Mann (1916), the hero of
which rises from the working-classes to be an elementary teacher
- a rank which in Germany (since Jean Paul wove the village
schoolmaster's life into cloud-rapt idylls) has been associated with
culture, influence, and (to quote Sudermann) Cluck im WinfaL

Satire of the drastic and juicily outspoken Bavarian brand gives
its tang to the comedies of JOSEF RUEDERER (1861-1915) andLUD-
WIG THOMA (1867-1921). Ruederer's Die Fahnenweihe (1894) was
one of the most successful plays of the period; he was a born
dramatist, with a sharply defined sense both of shapely construc-
tion and of vivid characterization with hard, cruel lines. Fahnen-
weihe is a pitiless satire of village life; and it has the mark of
Ruederer's work generally - the delineation of the Catholic priests
as self-serving rogues, and of their parishioners as keen on what-
ever profit they can get from their subjection to the priests; priest
and scamps get off with everything, and decency is so dangerous
that only an utter fool will risk it. Ruederer's satire is less bitter
in his next comedy, Die Morgenrote (1904), which dramatizes the
expulsion from Munich in 1848 of Lola Montez, the mistress of
Ludwig I. Wolkenkuckucksheim (1908), an adaptation of the Birds
of Aristophanes, was a failure, and Ruederer proved with Der
Schmied von Kochel (1911) that historical drama was beyond his
reach. His novel Bin Verruckter (1894) shows what happens to
honest men: an assistant teacher actually dares to vote liberal and
to say what he thinks; the result is that he is hounded to death by
the village priest and the governors of his school. His short stoties
(Tragikomodien, 1896; Wallfahrer->Mahr-mdMordergeschichten, 1899)
show Ruederer as a master of the grotesque as well as of the
ridiculous. Ludwig Thoma, one of the mainstays of Simplicissimus